Monday, Jul 25, 2016
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Prosecution rests in trial of 2 Davis-Besse workers

The government yesterday rested its case against two former Davis-Besse workers accused of covering up information about the Ottawa County nuclear plant's dangerous condition in the fall of 2001, when its old reactor head was on the verge of bursting and allowing radioactive steam to form.

David Geisen of Wisconsin and Rodney N. Cook of Tennessee are both charged with lying to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, as is Andrew Siemaszko of Texas. All three face up to five years in prison and separate $250,000 fines if convicted.

Mr. Geisen, a former FirstEnergy Corp. engineer, and Mr. Cook, a contractor long associated with the plant, have been on trial in U.S. District Court in Toledo since Oct. 1.

The trial for Mr. Siemaszko, another former FirstEnergy engineer, is to occur later.

A defense motion to have the case dismissed because of a lack of evidence will be heard by Judge David Katz at 8:15 a.m. Thursday. If he lets the case to proceed, defense attorneys will begin calling witnesses at 9 a.m.

Federal prosecutors get a chance to call rebuttal witnesses after the defense finishes. They have indicated a desire to call Mr. Siemaszko to the stand to testify against Mr. Geisen and Mr. Cook during that phase of the trial, a move that defense attorneys are challenging. The judge is expected to issue a ruling on that soon.

The 10 women and six men who comprise the jury and its four alternatives are off until Thursday, because of a previously scheduled, three-day judicial commitment that begins Monday for Judge Katz.

The trial is expected to continue into November. Mr. Siemaszko's trial likewise is expected to last three to five weeks.

The two cases center on what the employees knew about Davis-Besse's reactor head when the NRC suspected something was amiss and wanted to shut the plant down for an emergency safety inspection by Dec. 31, 2001.

FirstEnergy talked the agency into letting it continue operating until Feb. 16, 2002, a compromise the NRC said it later regretted.

The utility wound up paying a record $33.5 million in fines for its failure to provide complete and accurate information as a corporation.

Contact Tom Henry at:

thenry@theblade.com

or 419-724-6079.

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